Lafarge Africa signs N11bn power plant contract

•Wants FG to declare N/East tax free zone

Lafarge Africa Plc has signed a contract worth N11 billion with a Chinese firm, RUNH Power Corp for the construction of a captive power plant at the Ashaka Cement plant in Gombe State, North-Eastern Nigeria.

The agreement signed at the Transcorp Hilton at the weekend in Abuja Abuja is for erection of a 16 megawatts lignite-fired plant.

At its completion in 2018, the plant will supply consistent energy to boost the plant operation efficiency that will transform Ashaka cement production capacity to one million metric tonnes per annum.

Chairman of the Board of AshakaCem, Mallam Suleiman Yahaya called on the Federal Government to declare the North East zone tax free in the next five years for any investor that is courageous enough to commit resources to the development of the country in the area.

This, he said could immediately be done through an executive order of the President without passing through the rigour of legislative processes.

If Government can do this, he was optimistic that the company will be able to build additional power plant and consequently increase its energy contribution to the national grid.

He said AshakaCem Plc needs to be encouraged in recognition of the company’s bold step of committing 85% of its cash reserve to the new power project.

Yahaya said the power plant is the first transformational step in the development of the cement plant to recover cost leadership in the North East region of Nigeria, hitherto ranked amongst the most expensive energy costs in the LafargeHolcim Group.

“The North Eastern region is a strategic region where Ashaka is supporting the reconstruction program of the Government. This project will further strengthen the relationship with Gombe State as well as the communities and reinforce the importance of Ashaka as the major manufacturing company in that part of the country”, said the chairman.

The managing director of AshakaCem Plc, Mallam Abdulahi Umar Rabiu said the power plant will enable the company to release the power it consumed back to the national grid, adding that the plant will boost the production capacity of the company, ensure improved performance and yield better returns on investment to shareholders.